Cold Brew Coffee

Let’s cut to the chase, folks: we’re all here for the same cold, dark reason. We’re addicts. Cold brew coffee addicts. We can’t get enough of the low acidity, syrupy smooth, perfectly caffeinated goodness.

But let’s get one thing out the way before we take this any icy obsessions any further: precisely what is cold brew coffee?

Cold brew coffee is not hot coffee gone cold

First things first: don’t make the rookie mistake of confusing delicious, refreshing cold brew coffee with day-old cold coffee.

I used to hate cold coffee; let hot coffee lose its heat and it just doesn’t taste the same. But that was until I got introduced to cold brew coffee, which is a world away from hot coffee which has simply gone cold.

Cold brew coffee is brewed using cold water, not boiling hot water. Weird, right? Bear with me and you’ll get the whole picture at the end of this article.

So, what is cold brew coffee and how did it become the hottest coffee trend in coffee since the cappuccino?

It’s a revolution in coffee culture that is quickly gaining momentum. More and more coffee geeks are hot on the idea that the rules can be bent a little, and coffee might actually taste better cold.

But why is it the hottest trend in coffee today? For starters, making cold brew coffee is simple; it requires no specialized equipment aside from grounds, cool filtered water, and bit of patience. In fact, you could be enjoying your very own cold brew tomorrow.

Hold up.

Don’t even go there. I know what you’re thinking and I’m going to stop you immediately: that instant coffee sh*t won’t cut it. You should probably just toss it out and get some real coffee beans.

What you need to make cold brew coffee.

  • Coffee beans. Stock up on some high quality beans. Don’t skimp here; cheap beans make a cheap brew.
  • A coffee grinder. In an ideal world, you’re going to grind your own beans immediately before you start the cold brew process. This will yield a better, fresher tasting brew. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, get your local coffee bean purveyor to grind your beans very coarsely.
  • Pro tip: Don’t have a grinder? Because you need a coarse grind, a mortar and pestle will get the job done. As an added bonus, using a mortar and pestle can be rather therapeutic; at least more so than throwing poison-tipped darts at a photo of your boss.
  • Cool, filtered water. Break out the Brita filter, bro!

Checked all the boxes? Good. You’re ready to make your first cold brew coffee.

How to make cold brew coffee

There are a number of fantastic cold brew coffee recipes on the web, so I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details in this article. But I will provide you with a quick walkthrough to get you started on your cold brew quest.

Let’s get to it

  1. First, grind up your coffee beans as coarsely as possible and transfer them to a suitable container. If you own a French coffee press, you can use it to hold your grounds.
  2. Next, add cold or chilled water by pouring it over your grounds.
  3. Pro tip: The secret to cold brew coffee is to give the coffee time to infuse into the water, this requires you to leave the coffee grounds steeping in the water for a period of up to 12 hours.
  4. The next stage is to strain your grounds to separate the coffee-infused water from the used grounds. Do this by tilting your container and letting the water run off into a second container. Or, if you’re using a French press, gently push the plunger down. You will then need to use filter paper over a storage container and pour the coffee in small quantities through that to remove any particles.
  5. Now comes the boring part: refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or up to 5 days. But if you just can’t wait (this being your first cold brew and all), cold brew coffee can be enjoyed immediately — over ice, of course.
  6. Add an equal measure of milk and sweeten with simple syrup if that’s your thing.
  7. And voila! Grab a straw, sit back, and enjoy.

Take it to the limit: become a cold brew coffee master

Congratulations, you’ve made your first cup of cold brew. But this is only the beginning of your journey to cold brew enlightenment.

Cold brew is a hot trend — and it’s here to stay. Let’s talk advantages of cold brew coffee over traditionally brewed coffee.

First, it’s pretty damn simple to make at home. You don’t even need a coffee machine!

Second, it loses its flavor much more slowly that hot brewed coffee, since its chemistry has not been altered by extreme temperatures. Flavors are literally locked in.

Lastly, and perhaps most attractive to coffee geeks is the low acidity of cold brew coffee. Cold brew coffee is less acidic than traditionally brewed coffee due to the absence of heat. Brewing with cold water slows down the infusion process, while hot water causes the release of oils with high acidic content, which gives coffee its bitter taste. Cold brew coffee is, therefore, inherently less bitter. That’s some Bill Nye shit.

But what does all this coffee jargon mean to you, dear drinker? Well, the suppression of bitterness means you’ll experience the other underlying flavors coffee contains. Hints of chocolate, fruit and nut are often noted when using cold brew methods.

That’s a wrap

OK, cold brew bros and brahs. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a mean cold brew buzz going and I’m finding it hard to sit still. Let’s call it day. Keep drinking that cold brew and check back soon for more cold brew coffee goodness. Hopefully that’s put the “what is cold brew coffee” question to rest once and for all…but if you’ve still got questions, direct your attention to  the cold brew coffee blog to learn more.

Cold brew or cold press refers to the method of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature water for an extended period (usually 12-24 hours) of time.  No heating element is ever introduced to the process brewing coffee.

Cold brew coffee tastes a little sweeter because of its lower acidity, but can be just as full bodied yet often smoother than heat brewed coffee.

The ground coffee in  is never heated (after being roasted), the process of infusing flavor from the cold brewed beans produces a different chemical profile than heated brewing does.Why Cold Brew Your Coffee?

  1. The Cold Brew Concentrate Has 67% Less Acid Than Heat Brewed Coffee.  
  2. It Has Approximately 20% Less Caffeine Than Heat Brewed Coffee
  3. The Coffee Grinds Can Be Brewed Twice, Lowering The Overall Cost
  4. The Strength Is Easily Adjusted To Suit All Tastes Without The Need To Brew Multiple Pots
  5. Cold Brew Concentrate Can Make Other Coffee Delicacies, like Coffee Ice Cream

How To Cold Brew Coffee

The actual process of  preparing cold brew coffee is not complex or difficult.

In fact  the short answer to the question how to cold brew coffee is: put coffee grinds in room temperature water and let it sit for a period of time and then filter out the grinds.

To get it right, takes a little more planning, but not much!

There are three variables that need to line up to make coffee that suits your taste.  How you adjust these variables will result in different tasting cold brew coffee.

The variables are:1) The Type And Grind Of Coffee You Cold Brew

Obviously the darker the coffee the stronger the resulting cold brew coffee concentrate will be.  Cold brew coffee generally is smoother and less robust than heat brewed coffee, so if you like a medium brew, start with a dark roast and if you like a dark brew start with an extra dark roast.

Regardless of the type of coffee you pick  to cold brew, you should choose medium grind or coarse grind coffee.  There are two reasons for this.  First the longer coffee is ground the more heat it is exposed to resulting in more acid.  Second, medium and course grinds are easier to filter and most cold brew systems call for a medium to coarse grind2) The Amount Of Coffee And Water You Use

This should be fairly straightforward to most:  the more coffee you use, or alternatively the less water you use the stronger the resulting cold brew coffee concentrate will be.

A General rule of thumb is to use 16 ounces (or one pound) of ground coffee and 9 cups of water to make a standard cold brew coffee concentrate.

More water will result in a weaker concentrate and conversely more coffee will result in a stronger cold brew coffee concentrate.3) The Length Of Time You Cold Brew Coffee

The general rule for 16 ounces of coffee and 9 cups of water is to brew it for 12 hours.

We have found that this is a minimum recommendation for brewing time.  

See our tip on how to cold brew coffee more economically for more information, but it rarely hurts to make a stronger cold brew coffee concentrate because it is easier and more economical to dilute the concentrate than it is to add more. For this reason we recommend 18 hours.

How To Cold Brew Coffee More Economically

Because cold brew coffee is less acidic and smoother than heat brewed coffee, we have found that it helps to over brew your cold brew coffee.

What we mean is that a stronger concentrate is usually better.  You will get he same amount of concentrate but you can use less when mixing it with water or milk to make your cup of coffee.

By brewing a strong concentrate you cut the amount you use per cup thereby making each batch last longer.

How do you make a stronger brew?

You can add more grinds or cut the water, but doing this results in added cost or less final product.  Instead brew it a little longer.  Try 18 hours instead of 12.

Or you could pick stronger coffee.  If you like a medium cup of coffee, go for extra dark coffee grinds and then just add less of the concentrate , thereby saving you more for later.

There Are Many Ways to Make Cold Brew Coffee

One of the easiest and cleanest ways to actually cold brew coffee is to use a cold brew coffee maker like the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System we review here.

You can also use a large french press.  Just put the water and grinds in the press, let it sit for 12-18 hours and then press and drain into a carafe for later use.  The problem with this method is finding a french press big enough to hold enough grinds and water to make the time needed worth it.

Because the process is so simple, you could use a plain old bucket. Again, all you do is mix the right amount of coffee with the right amount of water and let it sit for the right amount of time and then filter the cold brew coffee concentrate through a filter and store for later use.

Perk Brew